Guest Post: Is Google the new travel metasearch?

By Travolution
By Travolution
January 31, 2014 10:57 AM GMT

Do metasearch companies have a future, and if so, what is it, asks travel technology, CRM and social media consultant Jon Pickles

The recent announcement by Michael O’Leary that “there are some very exciting developments with Google where we have been working with them on sharing the pricing”, and that “it will blow comparison sites like Skyscanner out of the water”, hints that Google is looking to get into flight metasearch in a big way.

I have always maintained that at some point in the near future consumers will start their holiday search direct from the Google search box - if they don’t do so already.

Once Google provides a meta-like result set showing the cheapest fares, hotels and extras, the metasearch companies will be redundant. Google are already doing this in the US.

1

I know that Mr O’Leary is known for making bold claims, but he would not have mentioned the detail about the Google search were there not an element of truth in it.

It wasn't long before confirmation came with news that Ryanair was participating with Google on Flight Search. Try google.co.uk/flights.

Google has a Travel team in the UK. They are not just there to help travel companies, or are they? 

What I love about Google's Flight Search is that as soon as you choose a departure city you then see a map of all destinations that departure airport services - a really nice, clean interface, uncluttered by the confusing array of advertorial baggage the metasearch sites have to show in order to monetise them.

Compare Google Flight Search and Skyscanner from a user perspective and see what you think?

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Take a look at Google's Travel insurance comparison site. You can search for travel insurance across multiple suppliers (40).

It's got a clean, easy-to-use interface and provides a comprehensive list of results. You can select one or more for comparison, and when ready to buy you are redirected to the insurance provider's web site.

When you simply search for “Travel Insurance” in Google you get a prominent ad for Google insurance search below paid ads like this. Is this impartial?

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Last year I needed to book a hotel stay in London for the World Travel Market. I wanted the hotel to be in Soho, London, because although I had meetings at WTM, the evening events were in the City.

I was sitting at my office desk and had my desktop in front of me. Rather than using my favourite hotel booking app, Booking.com, on my iPhone, I opened the Chrome web browser (another Google product) and typed "Hotels in Soho” into Google search.

Within minutes I had inadvertently stumbled upon Google's hotel comparison site and made a booking. It’s fast, it satisfied my need and, well, it worked. I didn’t have to remember a metasearch URL, I just used my default browser.

So, we have to ask if metasearch companies have a future, and if so, what is it? I think that Google sees many opportunities in this space - after all, fast search is Google's core strength.

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